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Worst signings of the 2023/24 Premiership season (part 2)


hislopsoffsideagain

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Here's part 1, the countdown from 25 to 11.

And here's the top 10. Who will succeed Anthony Stewart as the 'winner'?



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10. RILEY HARBOTTLE (HIBERNIAN)

According to Harbottle, he was so strongly encouraged to join Hibs by then-Forest teammate Scott McKenna that McKenna "seemed more excited about it than I was". I wouldn't take advice from him in the future, Riley. Harbottle joined Hibs on a three year deal for "an undisclosed fee", made one league appearance (a defeat at home to Livingston) and didn't get on the pitch for them again. He joined League Two Colchester on loan in January.



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9. KYOSUKE TAGAWA (HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN)

If I were feeling generous, I'd say that it may have been difficult for Tagawa to acclimatise following his move from his native Japan, and that his minutes have been limited by Lawrence Shankland's outstanding form. However the fact remains that Hearts paid a fee for him, his only goal was in a League Cup game against Championship opposition and expectations for a twice-capped international should be higher than that. Tagawa has already been linked with an exit this summer.



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8. JOSE CIFUENTES (RANGERS)

Michael Beale pursued Cifuentes for months, spent £1.2m on him and boasted that he would take Rangers "to the next level". Within five months he was away on loan to Cruzeiro, having chosen a move to Brazil because "I didn't experience the sun for the six months I was with Rangers. It was always cold". The Ecuadorian playmaker just wasn't very good at, erm, making the play - he had just two assists in twenty appearances and missed out on a League Cup medal because he was suspended for a straight red in a league game a few days before. Rangers will hope Cruzeiro take up their option to sign him, given he still has three years on his Ibrox contract.



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7. LUKE JEPHCOTT (ST. JOHNSTONE)

The Welsh under-21 forward looked like a pretty good signing, just two years removed from scoring 16 goals in League One. That's 16 more than he scored in Scotland. Jephcott made eleven appearances for St. Johnstone but had drifted out of favour even before Craig Levein took charge. Levein's description of the striker as "a luxury" was not unreasonable; he is by all accounts a predator but his link-up play was so poor that his equally mediocre teammates couldn't get up the pitch to create chances for him. Jephcott completed a quarter of his two year contract before moving to Newport County in January...where he still isn't scoring.



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6. NAT PHILLIPS (CELTIC)

Phillips' last appearance in the Hoops will define his forgettable spell at the club - a 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock where he scored an own goal and was just a general shambles. This was another loan move that looked decent on paper and proved anything but; Phillips was always talked of highly by Liverpool and was frequently linked with £10m moves to the likes of Burnley and Bournemouth, but you'd be lucky to get ten bob for him on the back of his performances in Scotland. Four starts and as many sub appearances later, he returned south and has had a better second half of the season at Cardiff City.



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5. RHYS WILLIAMS (ABERDEEN)

Career Premier League starts: seven (for Liverpool!). Career Premiership starts, or sub appearances: zero. The signing of Williams seemed to be a coup at the time, Aberdeen taking advantage of the success Leighton Clarkson had on loan last season to attract another talented youngster from Anfield. And yet Williams didn't play a competitive game for the Dons' first team, though he did appear as part of  a Colts' defence that shipped five against Peterhead in the Challenge Cup, and also by all accounts had a shocker in an Aberdeenshire Shield game against Fraserburgh. He struggled with injury initially and then couldn't crack the starting lineup even with Aberdeen's poor results and hectic schedule. He was rarely even on the bench except on Conference League nights, when Barry Robson was allowed to name half the city as substitutes. Having left Scotland in January, it didn't get any better for Williams, whose subsequent loan at Port Vale lasted just sixteen days because of another injury.



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4. GUSTAF LAGERBIELKE (CELTIC)

Strange but true: Lagerbielke is a Baron - the eleventh Baron Lagerbielke - and is actually 254th in line to the Swedish throne, putting him closer to the crown than he is to Celtic's starting lineup. Had Cameron Carter-Vickers not picked up a knock, Lagerbielke would have been loaned to Lecce, but Brendan Rodgers insisted on keeping him for defensive cover. Even some moaning to the Italian press couldn't get the Swede the escape he desired. He'll always have that winning goal against Feyenoord in a Champions League dead rubber, but that was in one of just three appearances (all off the bench) that he's made since the end of September. This guy cost £3.5m.



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3. OLI SHAW (MOTHERWELL)

Shaw's loan spell was so underwhelming that it was no surprise that in January Motherwell sent him back to Barnsley. It was a surprise when, two weeks later, he returned. Rumour has it that Well tried to exercise a clause allowing them to end the loan early if there was an injury, but Shaw wasn't injured enough. And having played for his parent club earlier in the season, Shaw couldn't sign for anyone else and Barnsley didn't want him back. So Shaw is still a Steelman, one who has made eighteen appearances (all but two as a sub) and scored zero goals. Stuart Kettlewell was so confident in him that he has since signed yet another forward, Moses Ebiye. Shaw has played six minutes of first team football since his return, with his main contribution being to miss a sitter that would have beaten Hibs and put the Steelmen in the top six.



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2. PAPE HABIB GUEYE (ABERDEEN)

If someone other than Rangers and Celtic spends half a million quid on a striker, then he had better be good. Aberdeen splashed that sum on Gueye, who doesn't appear to be the next Han Gillhaus; heck, he's not even going to be the next Robbie Winters (you're showing your age now - Ed). Robson trusted him to start only one match (a Conference League game where he was hooked at half time). In his six other games, all sub appearances, the Dons failed to score a goal with him on the pitch. Gueye was loaned to Norwegian club Kristansund in January, and he scored his first league goal for them last weekend. It remains to be seen if his Aberdeen career will be salvageable under Jimmy Thelin.



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1. SAM LAMMERS (RANGERS)

Lammers has been a goal machine in recent weeks...for Utrecht, who he joined on loan in January. The Dutchman has claimed his miserable spell and lack of goals at Rangers was down to being played as a number ten rather than as a striker. That doesn't really explain the fact that he had plenty of goalscoring opportunities in games and consistently failed to take them. Two goals in thirty-one games is some return for a £3.5m striker. Rangers can only hope that his Utrecht form cons someone into paying them a decent fee to take him off their hands.


A worthy victor indeed.



Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly.

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